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Kaleidoscope Thinking in Pharma

Guest Blogger

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An article in FiercePharma last fall is a study of patient experience and creativity in pharma. "Drug companies used to be focused on the molecule — now they are looking at other ways to retain value by focusing on the patient experience."

The article goes on to note that pharma marketers are taking their cues from consumer marketers and focusing on design as a critical element. For example in India, where drug counterfeiting is an issue, AstraZeneca puts Crestor in transparent packages so patients can inspect each pill. AZ’s package for a new cancer treatment for women resembles a cosmetic case because the old version reminded women they were cancer patients not cancer survivors.

By combining two disparate ideas (cancer and cosmetics) and keeping the ultimate end user in mind, the company has added value, differentiated themselves, and presumably fostered brand loyalty. And it has demonstrated creativity (the characteristic CEOs identify as the most important leadership competency for the future success of their companies. (IBM Institute for Business Value—read summary here).

Creativity is like a kaleidoscope. A kaleidoscope has many different colors and shapes of glass. When the kaleidoscope is turned, various pieces of glass come together in new and different ways—making totally unique designs. The possibilities are endless. However, if you only have one color or one shape of glass in your kaleidoscope, what you will see when you turn it is pretty limited. It’s the same with creativity. If you’ve only got one way of thinking—or only expose yourself to one source of input—you’re going to be limited when it comes to problem solving.

The implications are clear. To be creative you’ve got to mix things up. Listen to different music. Change the furniture arrangement in your office. (I asked everyone in our creative department to move workstations. So far It’s been a great experiment.) Take a different way to work. Wear a different color. Anything you can do to get more pieces of glass in your kaleidoscope will help you come up with new, exciting and creative solutions to your problems.

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